Understanding and Enjoying Fluency


By: Sarah Grace Durrance

Rationale: Readers need to become fluent so that they can focus their attention on comprehending the text. Fluency is crucial for readers to transition from decoding to automatic word recognition. Students develop sight word vocabulary through the practice of fluency. The method of repeated readings is the most efficient way for students to move from slow, frustrating reading to effortless, enjoyable reading. In this lesson, students will use the strategy of crosschecking during repeated readings of decodable text to gain fluency and independence in reading.

Materials: stopwatches for each pair of students, fluency graphs for each student (colorful graphs with places for stickers when reaching a new level), stickers (variety of colorful choices), fluency checklist, reader response questions, questions I ask the children throughout the lesson posted on the board (poster board), a sample fluency graph of how to reach the next level posted on the board (poster board), expo markers, example sentences written on board, pencils, clip boards, and a class set of Bass Lake.


1.)  Say: In order to be the very best readers we can be, we must be able to read fluently. To read fluently means that we can read accurately and automatically. That means we read each word smoothly with ease without having to sound out each word. When you become a fluent reader, it makes reading a lot more fun because you can focus on understanding the words instead of figuring out the words.


2.)  Say: Now lets look at a sentence on the board. "I had a chicken sandwich for lunch." Listen as I read aloud the sentence and tell me if I am a fluent reader or not. I, huh huh  hahh duhh a kkk, ch, chi, chick, chicken saaaand-wihhhch, sandwich for lunnnnk. I had a chicken sandwich for lunk, no that doesn't sound right, I had a chicken sandwich for lunch sounds much better. Was I a fluent reader or not? That's right, I was definitely not a fluent reader. Reading the sentence like, I had a chicken sandwich for lunch, would be reading fluently. Did you see how I didn't have to sound out any words? I want you to turn to your partner and practice reading the second line on the board; Ben has an ant bite on his foot. Read this sentence until you can read it fluently.

3.)  Say: Did you notice how I got stuck on the last word in the first sentence? I had a chicken sandwich for lunch. I had trouble pronouncing lunch but when I went back and reread the sentence, I was able to figure out what that word is supposed to be. This strategy is called cross checking. It is very important when we are trying to figure out missing or misread words.


4.)  Say: What do you think would be the best way to become fluent readers? Yes, reading with expression is one great point. We can understand how to read all the words but reading with expression is a great way to help us understand the book and become fluent readers. Can anyone tell me how you could use expression when reading the sentence, "I fell down the stairs"? Yes Tommy, give us an example of how we would not read with expression. (He says is quietly with not movements in tone or body). Now Lisa, could you read the sentence with a lot of expression? (She reads is in a loud scary voice) Very good! This is how we would read with expression instead of how Tommy read. The more we do this, the better readers we become! Lets try to read like this in our book today!


5.)  Now as a class we are going to read silently Bass Lake. This story is about two girls, Gail and Sue, which are going for a hike to Deer Cove. One morning, Gail woke up and saw a fire in the woods. She woke Sue and rushed her to look at the fire. Lets read to find out what happens to the girls and if they ever make it to Deer Cove.

6.)  While the students finish reading, write the directions on the board for the next assignment. When they have all finished, Say: It is time to partner up with your reading buddies and go to your reading area. Choose one student to go to the reading area and make sure it is clean and ready to work in with both of the Bass Lake books. The other student needs to come up to me and grab: 2 Partner Reading Progress Checklists, two pencils, two timers, and two clipboards.

a.    When you get to your area, I want you and your partner to silently count the number of words in the first chapter. Make sure you both have the same number before moving to the next step. Then I would like you to write that number next to your name on line that says, "Total words in the chapter".

b.    You and your partner are going to take turns reading aloud the Bass Lake book three times to one another. While one partner reads, the other partner is going to time them with the stopwatch. Start with your reading partner checklist. Your name goes in the Student Name line. Write your partners name on the line that says, Partner's name. Whenever you time your partner, write their time down on the sheet of paper next to "Time."

c.    As your partner reads, I want you to make tally marks when they make a mistake. You should be following along while they read. (Show miscue tally method on the board) You are going to write the tallies next to the time on the partner sheet. Does everyone understand this? Yes, okay lets go onto the next step.

d.    Then y'all get to be the teacher and score their progress. This is a positive assignment and we are not going to discourage anyone if they are not doing as well as their partner. Once they have finished their first reading, I want you to take the total number of words in the first chapter and subtract the number of tallies that you gave that student. Whatever your answer is, I want you to write it on the checklist paper.                                             ___ (total words) - ___ (tallies) = ___ words. Then I would like for you to do the same thing but with the time it took to read the chapter.             ____ (total words) in ____ (total seconds). I would like for you to do this three times and record all the information each time. After you have finished all three readings with each person, I would like for you to circle the best time your partner read with the least tallies and circle the time your partner read the quickest. Does everyone understand this? Awesome! If you have any questions, please raise your hand during your lesson so that I can come help you.

e.    After you have finished this, I am going to have three questions posted on the board about the story we just read that I want you to answer in your journal. Make sure that you write neatly.

                                          i.    How many miles does it take to hike Bass Lake?

                                        ii.    Who are the girls trying to go see in Deer Cove?

                                       iii.    What did the girls want to use to fish off of, and why?

f. -When you turn in your papers and checklists, I will give you a graph and three stickers of your choice. I will figure out your three rates and after putting your name at the top, your stickers will go in the time spaces to show your reading rates.

-You will put your completed sticker chart on the fluency poster on the bulletin in the classroom.

Assessment: I will review student's responses to the reading response questions they submitted and complete the attached rubric while reviewing student's work throughout the lesson.






Reading Rate_________







Less than 50

Wpm              1     2    3



                                      Partner Reading Progress

Reader Name: _________________

Partner's Name: _______________

                                                         Total words in the chapter______

1.       Tally Marks:          Time:

 ____total words- ____ tally marks= ____ words

 _____ words in ____seconds.


2.       Tally Marks:           Time:

____total words- ____ tally marks= ____ words

 _____ words in  ____seconds


3.       Tally Marks:               Time:

 ____total words- ____ tally marks= ____ words

_____ words in  ____seconds

Which reading turn had the fewest tally marks (errors)? ________

Which reading turn was read the fastest? _______



Assessment Rubric


Student Name:


Evidence shown for reading three times


Responded to comprehension questions


Improved fluency


Improved accuracy


Completed Partner Progress form






Sims, Matt. Bass Lake. San Val, 1999.

Growing Independence with Fluency: Fluency Fun with Junie B Jones, by Casey Piper


The Reading Genie: Developing Reading Fluency (by Dr. Bruce Murray)


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